There are certain times in the year I revel in gratitude. I’m sure that we have some of these moments in common; visits with friends and family, a child’s birthday, faith-based celebrations, and the anniversary of my craniotomy (maybe you and I don’t have that last one in common!) - to name a few.
May and June are significant months in my life. May being Brain Tumor Awareness month, and this June marks five years since I had my brain tumor removed.
I have profound gratitude for having that experience, for everyone who supported me (there were/are countless people), and for being here to find joy in all the moments in a day (yes, even the mundane...even the difficult).
This year I have been reflecting on my experience (which you can read about here) from the perspective of a few of the people I encountered. Mainly, people who were not particularly close to me felt the need to respond or offer assurance for my situation.
Usually, the responses were typical -> ‘ohhhh, I am so sorry to hear this!’ but sometimes they were what I would consider being, over-the-top -> ‘You’ll sail through this - no problem at all!’ or - ‘Don’t worry about it! Focus on something else! Stay positive!’
While the intention was heartfelt, it limited my opportunity to be heard and understood. I mean, what was I supposed to say back: ‘well actually, I have no idea what will happen or if there won’t be issues, I’m scared, and I'm alone.
I’ve learned now that this is a thing; it's called toxic positivity, and it applies to all realms of life, including business.
It’s a great practice to commend a job well done, but taking it to an extreme can be harmful to a work environment. Focussing only on the positive limits critical thinking and evaluation and stifles growth and evolution.
Denying the reality of a situation is like sticking your head in the sand. To address situations and issues that will come up, you need to take the blinders off (and take the blinders off those on your team) to figure out solution-based actions.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying don’t celebrate, offer encouraging words, or see the good in a situation. I am saying that by embracing the good and the bad equally, you will be in a much better position to make the best next step decisions - for yourself and your team.